Tottenham throws away lead against Arsenal, unease persists

Sports

Tottenham’s Harry Kane scores his side’s second goal from a penalty shot during their English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates stadium in London, Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

LONDON (AP) — A wide-open north London derby fizzing with tension and littered with errors highlighted flaws that show why Arsenal and Tottenham are some way off from challenging for the Premier League title.

A 2-2 draw allowed the neighbors, though, to take some comfort on Sunday heading into the international break by avoiding back-to-back Premier League losses.

While Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino continues to fuel a sense of unease around the club, counterpart Unai Emery is working on forging stability at Arsenal.

Tottenham rued throwing away a two-goal lead built by Christian Eriksen’s tap-in after Bernd Leno’s weak parrying of Erik Lamela’s shot and Harry Kane’s penalty after Granit Xhaka’s foolhardy challenge on Son Heung-min.

“We played with our heart, sometimes more than our head,” Arsenal manager Unai Emery said. “We need the balance. We need to be clearer in our mind. We made some mistakes.”

So did Tottenham.

Alexandre Lacazette, in a front three alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and summer signing Nicolas Pepe, began the Arsenal comeback in first-half stoppage time by exploiting Tottenham’s frailties in defense where Davinson Sanchez was the makeshift right back.

“I was a little bit ashamed to concede before halftime,” Pochettino said.

And Aubameyang was gifted space to drift through the defense to meet Matteo Guendouzi’s pass to recover the point in the 71st minute.

“I’m a little disappointed,” Tottenham striker Harry Kane said. “When you go 2-0 up you expect to win whoever you are playing.”

Not perhaps when you are a Tottenham side visiting the Emirates Stadium where it has not won in the league since 2010.

Still, four games into the season, Tottenham has left both champion Manchester City and Arsenal with draws after losing both games against them last season.

But Eriksen starting the game pointed to a future at Tottenham beyond the closure of key transfer markets on the continent on Monday after a summer of uncertainty while linked with a move to Real Madrid.

“I don’t want to say it’s impossible but it’s going to be difficult,” Pochettino said, when asked if the Denmark playmaker could leave. “I think nothing is impossible in football. I’m optimistic. The most important thing is that it is only 24 hours (until the European transfer window closes) and I hope that everything will be clear for everyone.”

Not that Pochettino, who took Tottenham to its first Champions League final last season, feels completely upbeat about the team. After collecting a point at the club’s great rival, the Argentine coach talked about being a “clown” who masks his emotions, adding to the sense all is not harmonious at a club where finances are more restricted than top-four rivals.

“I wasn’t happy,” Pochettino said reflecting on the summer after that final loss to Liverpool. “I was a little bit worried about the situation because we knew very well what is going on. But now I am optimistic and happy.”

What helps Tottenham is that Chelsea and Manchester United also dropped points when they both drew on Saturday.

But there is a familiar look in the early standings, with Liverpool leading the way after winning four out of four and champion Manchester City two points behind.

EVERTON WINS

Like Tottenham, Everton threw away a lead — twice — but it still came out on top.

Bookending Alex Iwobi’s goal, Richarlison scored the first and last goals in a 3-2 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Wolves twice drew level from Romain Saiss and Raul Jimenez but are still waiting for their first win of the league campaign.

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